Psychology Professor Melissa Goldberg was fired from her position at The Catholic University of America for bringing and abortion advocate to speak to her classes. I have been a guest speaker at colleges on doulas and their role in childbirth many times. I also have experience with many facets of doula work including when abortion becomes an issue. But there is no such thing as a Catholic Abortion Doula. In order to squash scandal, this is a “click-bait” title.
I began my doula work in 2005, just a few years after my first child was born. There were many kinds of doulas at that time. Doulas provide physical, emotional, and informational support to women and their families before, during, and after childbirth. Basically, I would meet with clients 2-3 times before birth for approximately 4-6 hours total, arrive at their birth when called and stay the entire time (even if it were days), and the follow-up after their birth for another 2 hour visit.
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There were other kinds of doulas, like postpartum doulas. I had one after the birth of my third living child and they are amazing! They are like a Mary Poppins that comes into your home and makes everything perfect and nurturing. I never felt called to support families this way, mostly because I never saw myself as nurturing. Postpartum doulas were and still are very popular. There were also antepartum doulas, who assisted mothers who were on bedrest and experiencing medical crises in their pregnancies.
Around 2011, I began my work as a bereavement doula. This is a doula who provides physical, emotional, and informational support to families enduring pregnancy loss. One of the major differences with this work is that we advocate for the client. A birth doula should never advocate on behalf of the client. Instead, birth doulas teach their clients how to advocate for themselves. With bereavement doula work, there usually is no preparation and therefore, the client has no idea what to advocate for.
In most cases, my advocacy was just protecting the interests and grieving process for the client. Such as ensuring the family gets time with their baby and can make memories. I would assist with cutting locks of hair, making hand molds and foot prints, pictures, etc. Sometimes, nurses would rush a client to give them the baby. There were several reasons for this.
Many times this was too uncomfortable for the nurse and she wanted it over. Other times, it was too painful. It was my job to help the parents navigate that there was no rush to do so. One time a nurse lied to my client. The nurse said that they couldn’t have an autopsy if they didn’t give her the baby. This is not remotely true. Other parts of my advocacy work included the Cuddle Cots. The cot is designed to keep the baby’s remains cold. Parents could then spend more time with their baby before decomposition becomes too much.
I have held a family’s tiny little baby who was born still many times. Usually I was just that “secret” person who could validate their baby was real. I have served families from many different religious backgrounds. I kept my Catholicity to myself unless the family was Catholic (and sometimes Christian) and asked for prayer or guidance.
What I have never done, though I have been asked to do, is support someone through their abortion. I have had several clients who had babies had fatal conditions. After meeting, some would to abort (they would say terminate) their child. This was certainly different than supporting a woman who just didn’t want to be pregnant but only emotionally different. The process is the same.
The Abortion Doula
The term “abortion doula” was something I had never heard of but I am sure they have existed. I can almost guarantee they existed since the first women began having abortions thousands of years ago. In fact, the popular TV Series Call The Midwife, proves these sort of women existed. They were just hidden and were taboo.
However, now this kind of doula is more well-known and often is hidden by the term “full-spectrum doula.” This was my demise and exit from doula work. In order to remain in the “circle of doulas,” you needed to be full-spectrum. This meant you needed to support abortion. If you didn’t support women’s choice; which is what doulas are taught to do, then you didn’t support women. Therefore, you shouldn’t be in doula work.
I was ostracized for trying to stay away from such sin. They used to ostracize doulas who wouldn’t support a woman who was getting an epidural but that became small potatoes. The doula society keeps this secret. If you are an abortion doula though, you would get many referrals and would stay “in the circle.” So what is an abortion doula? Planned Parenthood now has them. They define them as a doula provides physical and emotional support to a patient during their abortion process.
She Will Suffer
I can empathize with the loss of a child. I know that it is painful to choose loss (through choosing abortion). My husband cannot understand how I empathize with someone who is faced with making such a decision. Yet, as a mother (even as a father), we don’t want our children to suffer. When a pregnant mother is told the baby inside her has a fatal condition, she hears that her baby is suffering. Her motherly instincts kick in and she wants to stop that suffering.
To stop the suffering means to kill that child. However, a pregnant mother doesn’t look at it this way when she chooses this. She see this as an act of mercy. She also sees this as a way to stop her own suffering. In her mind, the longer the pregnancy goes on, the more she will bond with her baby. When a client says they are going to choose abortion over allowing their baby to pass naturally, I have to end the client/doula relationship. I also cannot refer to a full-spectrum doula because that would be supporting their choice and cause scandal. Plus, I would be in grave sin.
Some clients were open to a deeper understanding of how to carry a baby who has a fatal diagnosis. I would provide them with education, support, and resources. For most women I have mentored, the largest fear they have is the amount of emotional suffering they would endure with the longer they stayed pregnant. The second largest concern was pain and suffering the baby would endure. These two reasons were major factors in choosing abortion.
You Will Die
Without the support of their medical doctors to carry the baby until the baby died naturally, most women chose abortion. Women had little support to continue the pregnancy. She is given excuses like “you will get sick and die.” Or “you need to move on now and not delay the grief.” This is not providing women with choice, it’s providing women with fear and fear motivates their decision.
“You can get sick and die,” could be followed up with, “we will do everything we can to monitor you and this pregnancy to ensure this doesn’t happen, and intervene if necessary.” “You need to move on now and not delay the grief,” can be followed up with, “you already love this baby and the grief isn’t compounded daily, you will grieve regardless and we will help you through that with support and resources.” Several women received support from family for their abortions but as soon as they followed through with it, the family disowned them or ostracized them.
But just like most mental health issues, there is little actual focus on help. “Move on, get over it,” is commonplace because it’s difficult for people to give time, energy and resources into someone. They want an instant fix (medication); which isn’t a fix. It’s the world we live in right now. People scream “we need more mental health support.” Yet when their friend is struggling with depression, they have little “bandwidth” for putting up with what comes with it. Regular check-in’s, making meals, taking kids for playdates, managing their mood swings, etc, are too much.
Without a support system in place for someone who is carrying a baby with a fatal condition, why wouldn’t a woman choose abortion? She has little choice. Yet there are people and organizations out there to help women in this exact situation; such as String of Pearls. If women are offered this kind of support at the time of diagnosis, instead of “you are going to die if you don’t abort,” more women would choose to carry. In turn, less women would be doubting their choice and grieving over the “what if.”
“What if this baby actually survived?” “What if the diagnosis was wrong?” “What if I made the wrong choice?” “What if it wasn’t as bad as they said?” There are alot of “what if’s.”
I haven’t even mentioned how often the diagnosis is wrong, not as bad, or the problem didn’t exist at birth. I have had many women come back for grief mentorship who ruminate on these “what if’s.” Unfortunately, because they chose abortion, they may not ever stop with the “what if I was wrong?”
A Woman’s Strength
The truth is, women ARE strong enough to endure these serious and grave issues. They don’t need an abortion doula to sit with them as the abortionist dismembers their baby, limb from limb. They need a doula to help them every day to continue to say, “I am strong enough to do this. My baby will pass when they are ready. I can bring forth this child through birth. My love for this child will always remain. I gave this child love always, even to their last heartbeat and they chose when it was time to go.”
There is no eternal reward for the abortion doula. She is condemned when she says, “I will sit with you while your baby is ripped from your womb.” We are not the Creator and we should not ever choose death for anyone. This university should have had a bereavement doula talk with the students, not someone who is promoting death. God decides to give life and death, not us humans.